BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) – An Illinois man pleaded not guilty Monday to a sex charge involving a teenager who claims he held her captive in his house for more than three years.
Steven Johnson, 25, and his mother were arrested Thursday after a police raid on their home in Washington Park. Police acted after a 19-year-old St. Louis woman told investigators that Johnson kept her captive there for three years, repeatedly sexually assaulting and beating her. She told police Johnson fathered her 2-year-old son during that time.
Johnson was charged Saturday with five crimes, including promotion of prostitution and drug and weapons violations. But St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly has said only one, aggravated criminal sexual assault, relates to the teen. That charge accuses Johnson of having sex with her while she was underage.
Johnson entered his plea Monday in St. Clair County court and told the judge he plans to hire his own attorney.
His mother, Owida Johnson, 54, also made her first court appearance on misdemeanor child endangerment charges in connection with the case. She was scheduled for trial Nov. 5.
Police took two children from the Johnsons’ home. One was a 2-year-old boy identified as the teen’s son. Kelly has declined to identify the second child. He said both are in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Police said previously that the teen met Johnson socially and went to his home voluntarily but then wasn’t allowed to leave. The teen claimed she was able to escape Aug. 20 with help from a relative.
Washington Park Police Chief David Clark has said a three-day lag between when the teen escaped and made her report to police and the raid on the home was largely spent trying to substantiate her story.
The Johnsons remained jailed in Belleville in lieu of bond.
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